Archive for March 5, 2018

END OF DISCOURSE?

March 5, 2018

 

(This issue is so important that even though there are no pictures to entertain you,  I hope you’ll read and consider it.  You may be part of the solution.) 

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I’m not sure whether that title is hyperbole or not.    Maybe a little understandable pessimism on my part.   But I’m not the first one to ask that question.  I didn’t originate that question.  I’m  not the only one to have noticed this problem.

The problem is:   talking to each other in today’s climate of divisiveness.       Probably the most intelligent comment I’ve read recently was written by Susan Claire Potts, M.A., Ph.D., M.F.T.     See all those degrees?  She describes herself as a psychologist, trained in languages and literature as well as psychodynamic processes — and then she says that she and no one else needs all those degrees to notice that something is very wrong “with people’s minds”  as she says.

It’s quite a serious matter.    A Republic depends upon free and mutual discourse between people – without fear – to solve problems.   Our Church depends upon free and mutual discourse among people in order to reach deeper understandings.

Here is Dr. Potts’ analysis:

Nobody seems to think straight anymore. There is confusion everywhere. Everyone is affected. The disorder is not some esoteric psychopathology caused by the stresses of modern life. It is far more sinister. The Mystery of Iniquity*  has risen up, billowing like a toxic cloud, blotting out the Light. Minds are darkened. Preternatural forces are in play. People can’t seem to carry on a decent conversation anymore, much less a deep discussion. Not even Catholics. How can they? There are all kinds of Catholics now: Traditional. Conservative. Novus Ordo. Liberal. Progressive. Everybody has a label. It’s hard to find a regular Catholic anymore. People are sorted (and judged) by assumed orientation. No discussion is necessary or possible. Their identity will be known, their belief system understood before they say a word. There is no meeting of the minds, no shared principles. People are expected to formulate their own “truth,” forge their own path. To where? They don’t know. They have no destination point, no supernatural end goal. They’ve lost their way.

 

Cut off discourse, in the highest sense of that word,  and you cut off freedom of thought, the purpose of thought, and the End goal of man’s intellectual activity.

Man is simply an opinionated animal,  with no regard for objective reality:

Rather than “Update”  the last post with a correction, I’ll just say here that the example I used of an incident in a local church -as reported in the newspapers – was not based in accuracy.      I think.    From someone who was there, ” it didn’t happen that way”.   From someone else who was there – “it did happen that way.”    The man who shouted did or did not yell out for a long time.   He was or was not menacing.   The priest did or did not preach that day about political issues.     But he is known to have preached political issues in other sermons. . . .

I’ve often refrained from commenting on current issues, because the ‘news” will reverse itself and present new “facts”  a few days later, depending upon the biased opinion of the reporter.    So even when I get incensed about something I read,   perhaps it will turn out to be not true anyway.

But that’s the point, isn’t it.

We are supposed to get emotionally aroused.    We are supposed to create sides and  take sides.   We are supposed to “formulate our own truth,”  as Dr. Potts wrote.  We are in a time of identity politics and identity everything.

Ever since the Politics of Personal Destruction was introduced into Public Discourse in the 1990s and ever since factions found they could use existing institutions or authorities to shut down their opponents,  discussions . . .  based on objective facts . . .    ceased.  Even having an opinion is an act of divisiveness.

Again, both religion and politics depend upon a free exchange of information;  even a free expression of opinions.  

Who wins if those two free acts disappear?

How many lose when you ought not to speak freely because   objective facts are not part of the discussion?

How pointless and diminished everything is when emotions rule!

Will this End of Discourse be the end of discourse – forever?

What is the way out of our verbal dead end?

 

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.*    The Mystery of Iniquity (also called The Mystery of Lawlessness)   is a power or force of lawlessness that overwhelms human thinking and activity  with increasing power.      (II Thessalonians  2:7 –  For the mystery of iniquity is already at work: only he who now restrains it will restrain, until he be taken out of the way.)    So we’re not sure “who” is doing the restraining,  we’re not sure who the “he”  is that will be taken out of the way so that “all Hell breaks loose on earth”   —   but we do know that there is a power of iniquity working among us and against us humans.

And it’s affecting the way we think and talk to one another.

(I’ve read and considered many ideas for who  the Restrainer is and what will  happen and who will come when that Restrainer is removed, presumably in God’s good time by God’s good hand.       Some ideas make sense –  but in the spirit of open discourse,  I’m not ready to clamp my mind down on any one answer.   I just know for sure that something very bad will come of all this.)

And,   in the interest of avoiding “divisiveness,   I will not yet write the source of Dr. Potts’  comments.      Judge her words first.

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POLITICIANS, PRIESTS, AND BILLY GRAHAM

March 5, 2018

It’s always dismaying to read (or write) about “the state of the Church” — and especially on a Sunday.

Since giving up many of the teachings, traditions, and now even doctrines of 2,000 year-old Christianity,  the Modernized Church has weakened, stumbled, fell, skinned its knees, dirtied its face, and is  limping along towards further trouble.

How far along has this process gone?   All the way, I’d say.    Recently, in a church near me,   a priest was acting like a politician and gave a sermon that instructed the people on gun control, border walls, and racism.    Whatever you think of these Hot Button Leftist Talking Points,   most people would instinctively know that this is not what sermons should be about,  nor is it the role of the priest to act as a politician.

Don’t Leftists believe in “separation of church and state”?    (That’s a mild jab from me, with a smile.)

Before I go back to What Happened Next in that church,   here is what the role of a priest traditionally is,  Church teaching from St. John Eudes:

The priest is an evangelist and an apostle whose
chief work is to preach publicly and privately,
by word and example, the Gospel of Jesus
Christ; to continue and perpetuate the functions
that the apostles were commissioned to perform
and to practise the virtues that they practised  
His duty is to make them worthy to possess in eternity
the very kingdom of the Sovereign Monarch of
the world.
In a word, the priest embodies a world of grace
and benediction for the entire Church, but
especially for that portion which God has called
him to govern and guide.

 

The words were printed in the Scottish newsletter*, so that’s why the spelling of some words is different. This portion is just a small part of the saint’s teaching about priests,  but it’s an example of how far from secular politics is the duty of any Roman Catholic priest.

The duty of a priest is the things of God.  However in the local church that I began to write about, the words of that priest were so emotionally incendiary (patterned after the reporting presented by our entertainment-news media:  arouse the people!!),  so arousing, that a man got up in the back of the church and shouted out  his disapproval to the priest and then left the building.

Now, according to reports,  the word “panicked”  was used at least three times.   The people in the church “panicked”  because of the shouts (of the man who had quickly left) and police were called, reports were made, etc., etc.

So –  divisive politics strikes close to home.    I wonder about that scene.    I wonder about our society that has produced people so easily “panicked,”  whatever that meant.   I wonder about the psychological soundness of people with weakened faith (maybe through no fault of their own – living in such a changed Modernized church) –

Opposed to this scene is the teaching of the Church:     For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (II Timothy 1:7)       

As much as I’d like to comment on that verse,   it brings me to Billy Graham, whose biography I saw tonight in a documentary, which happened to be on TV after NASCAR!  (Happily for me.)

However many ways you can look at the man, Billy Graham had greatness and he was important to a wide variety of Americans.     His words changed lives.      As I listened to this documentary,  I was struck by how firmly he stuck to his message:

1.   Every man, deep down is longing for something; he has a hole to be filled:   “Everyone is born with a God-shaped hole in his heart.”   “The heart is restless until it rests in Thee.”  (St. Augustine)    Or listen  to Blaise Pascal about the abyss in our hearts:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)

2.   From there Billy Graham goes on to state that  not only do we all feel an emptiness,  but we also know, deep down, that we are sinners.

3.   God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for us, to “take away”  our sins, to give us new life, and to create a soul worthy of Heaven, sharing in his divine life.
Period.

4.    “If you want to have peace with God, come forward . . .”    in those big crusade auditoriums.     Don’t misunderstand me,  I’m being respectful.

With God (the Third Person of the Trinity) living in you,  you have  increasing faith, which leads to peace and spiritual health, strength, and a sound mind.

I think that factors in somehow to wondering about a “panicked”  congregation whose emotions were so stoked that a shout from the back of the room led to  fear for personal safety.

Fear does not come from God.   (Direct quote from Malachi Martin!)

But “Panic”  comes from the god Pan, according to the Greeks.   In other words,  from evil entities in enmity with God and man, all flourishing in a time of a weakened Church.

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There are some priests who strive to resemble St. Eudes’  description as partially quoted above.    All is not lost.    The priest I see each week reminds us frequently that it’s his job to  help us live holy lives –   he’s rather young, he works hard at it, even to the detriment of his own health, as I’m observing.        Just thought he deserves some praise.

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.*  CatholicTruthScotland